Nel's New Day

December 31, 2021

2021: A Year of Denial

The past tumultuous year has largely been marked by insurrection, inauguration, and infections—all major event which Republicans denied. Within a month after January 6, GOP congressional members were either silent about the attack by supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) on the U.S. Capitol or they denied any violence by the people they called “tourists” despite five dead people and 140 wounded—many in law enforcement. Some naysayers still falsely accuse the “antifa” (literally anti-fascists) for the unprecedented desecration by domestic terrorists. Also overlooked is the attempt to overturn the election by 147 congressional members who challenged legal electoral votes after the attack and mostly continue to support the “Big Lie” of a “stolen” election. That leadership, plus DDT’s unremitting similar claims, results in 71 percent of Republicans declaring Biden is not their president. 

Denial of the inauguration matches the denial of the insurrection as DDT and his supporters continue their march to a coup by declaring DDT the “true” president. Violent militia members use denial of Joe Biden as the legally elected president in their supposed “First Amendment” rights in court cases—a defense struck down by even DDT-appointed and GOP-confirmed judges. The abject fear of losing elections has led to 19 states passing 33 new voter-suppression laws, not only turning the voting process over to Republicans but also giving legislatures the right to change legal state ballot counts if the election officials don’t fall in line with the party. These laws have accompanied a huge spate of threats to election officials, who then resigned. To illustrate the severe national polarization, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws to expand voting access.

Big judicial cases dominated much of the year. The cases of three killed Black men brought three convictions: the police officer who killed George Floyd, a police officer who “accidentally” killed Daunte Wright, and three men who killed Ahmaud Abrey. After a police officer received “immunity” for killing a schizophrenic man by kneeling on his neck for 14 minutes in 2016, the family finally has the right to take the case to civil court. Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of federal sex trafficking after recruiting and grooming teenage girls sexually abused by her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison.

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two men and wounded another while gunning for them, was acquitted and became a far-right hero.  DDT escaped conviction in his second impeachment trial, going on to control the GOP—much to the dismay of most Republicans. Now he’s bilking GOP donors to pay for his ongoing criminal cases. 

Upcoming court cases will include those for a teenage boy who shot and killed four classmates and injured another seven while his parents have been charged with abetting his actions. This horrific event was one of almost 700 mass shootings during the year in the United States.

As cases and deaths from COVID skyrocket, conservatives, especially Christian evangelists, deny both the effectiveness of vaccines and the existence of huge numbers of people suffering and dying from the coronavirus. With his desire to live in the White House, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has tried to block every public health policy to keep people safer, including his fight to permit cruise ships to land at his docks. This past week, Florida had its highest level of COVID cases, 31,758 new infections, since the pandemic started in February 2020 and its third COVID outbreak on a Florida-based cruise ship. In the past two weeks, cruise ships in U.S. waters reported 5,013 COVID cases, up from 162 cases during the previous two weeks. Overall, the U.S. has 265,000 reported cases average for a week, up 60 percent from the previous week. Only 62 percent of people in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Yesterday, the U.S. experienced 572,019 infections with 1,362 deaths.

Denial of climate change has led to more horrific disasters in 2021 with fires, the most recent one this December described as the worst one in Colorado’s history and tornadoes, the deadliest one in history and staying on the ground for a 250-mile swath, earlier in December.

The so-called “culture wars” are leading to states passing laws against the non-existent teaching of “critical race theory,” expanding into a censorship of curriculum and library books not seen for decades. School boards are calling for the burning of books about racism and LGBTQ rights issues or being physically threatened and attacked for not following the wishes of “parents,” sometimes childless violent protesters who don’t live in the districts.

The worst denial for the year is how well Biden is administering. Immediately after his inauguration, he used the Defense Production Act to purchase more vaccines and coordinate the transportation to states. The project would have been a success except for the concerted effort of Republicans to remain unvaccinated, partly to thwart any achievement on the part of Democrats. As vaccinations waned from GOP opposition, mandates issued by Biden and government entities were sent to courts where several of them were overturned by DDT-appointed judges. When death rates for Republicans tripled those for Democrats, even before the Omicron variant, conservatives blamed Biden for not stopping the disease that the GOP made worse by rejecting vaccinations.

Throughout the year, Biden worked to improve the economy with the successes—and problems—described in yesterday’s post. The U.S. would be in even better shape if Republicans, aided by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) had not blocked the second infrastructure bill by denying that people needed any money. With no or almost no GOP votes, Biden succeeded in moving three must-pass bills through Congress in December: the budget, the increase in the debt ceiling, and the military appropriations bills.

The biggest problem this year would be if Congress had not increased the amount permitted to cover the nation’s debts, raised $7.8 trillion by Republicans and DDT during his four-year term. Republican senators use the filibuster, a requirement of 60 percent approval to debate a bill, for all major Democratic bills, but knew the country could not default on its debt. To these senators, the filibuster is sacred—unless they want something—so they waived the filibuster this one time while not one of them voted to increase the debt ceiling. Again, a denial that the filibuster is really necessary unless Republicans say it is. The GOP-permitted debt ceiling increase of a paltry $2.5 trillion is good only until 2023 when Republicans hope to control Congress.

With no discussion of inflation or debt ceiling, the military appropriations bill passed at $25 billion higher than Biden and the Pentagon requested while protecting Saudi Arabia. Congress tacked on 12 additional F/A-18 Super Hornets, five extra Boeing F-15EX jets than the request for 17 total, and five more ships including two attack submarines and two destroyers. The president can also declare war, in opposition to the Constitution. The $768 billion, over four times the request in the Build Back Better bill, takes 65 percent of the budget’s discretionary spending. Once again, denial for domestic needs because of funding for “the military-industrial complex,” something President Dwight Eisenhower warned about 63 years ago.  

Unlike the military appropriations bill, the general budget faced a rocky road because Republicans, like Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who was formerly Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) chief of staff, wanted to block the bill in his effort to stop Biden’s vaccine mandates. Not funding the United States would close down the nation like many other GOP shutdowns. Roy’s idea received traction from the Senate with Mike Lee (R-UT) leading the charge. Eventually, the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until another showdown on February 18, 2022, passed the House with only one GOP vote, Illinois’ Adam Kinsinger.

QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), most recently known for her idea that people moving from blue states to red states should be fined and blocked from voting, gave her rationale for a shutdown vote—“The people in here cannot control themselves.” Eleven months before her win in a solidly red district, Greene moved there from a district electing a Democrat. 

In attempts to salvage the U.S. standing in the world, where the nation fell to a “flawed democracy” for the first time, Biden worked to revive the Iran nuclear agreement while rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization. As Russian president Vladimir Putin threatens the autonomy of Ukraine, Biden is communicating to stop the giant power—and prevent a world war.

After the U.S. occupied Afghanistan for 20 years following George W. Bush’s preemptive war against the country, Biden fulfilled past promises to pull troops out of the country—much to the dismay of all the people who had demanded the administration follow through with the promises. Once again, conservatives denied that DDT had made a deal with the Taliban for doing this and left only 2,500 military members in the country.

In the corporate world, Mark Zuckerberg changed his company name to “Meta,” trying to deny the bad press he received from helping destroy people’s lives with “Facebook” as reported by whistleblowers. Thus far no one seems to have noticed the name change. AT&T was outed as the bankroller for One America News Network (OANN), which Salon called “one of the most corrosive news channels in America.” AT&T denied their actions which were backed by evidence. Caught in a Greenpeace sting, two Exxon lobbyists openly admitted the company had blocked effective climate action and bragged about using the American Petroleum Institute as Exxon’s “whipping boys.” Exxon CEO Darren Woods denied the comments.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve. You can top off the year with these holiday songs. 

December 30, 2021

Republicans Glory in Their Manufactured ‘Poor’ Economy

As 2021 ends, moans about inflation and people quitting their jobs fill the media. At the same time, the media ignores the booming economy. At the end of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) rule, the economy followed the trajectory of COVID, going downhill into a disaster that DDT worsened for his efforts to be reelected. Less than a year after the inauguration, the economy has turned around, despite the worsening COVID cases from variants caused by people who refused vaccinations. How good are things? Here’s some indication.

Part of the change comes from President Joe Biden putting money into the hands of the poor and middle-class instead of using DDT’s approach to provide trillions to big business and the wealthy. His stimulus bill, passed only by Democrats but later touted by Republicans with their constituents prevented the recession and dropped unemployment to 4.2 percent. National economic consultant Robert J. Shapiro described “extraordinary gains” of the first three quarters of 2021:

“Real GDP increased at a 7.8 percent annual rate—that’s adjusted for the current inflation. The Federal Reserve expects real growth of 5.9 percent for all of 2021, followed by another 3.8 percent increase in 2022.”

By contrast, the real GOP grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent, never reaching even three percent, in the two previous decades. In this year’s stock market, the S&P Index, reporting the most diversified stocks, jumped 21.7 percent from January 20, Biden’s inauguration day, to December 7, 2021. People’s disposable income grew three percent after inflation between January and October compared to 0.5 percent increase in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2018. Since January, unemployment fell by one-third, and wages climbed.

U.S. economic output jumped over seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and overall growth for the year should be about six percent with another four percent increase in 2022—the highest increases in decades. During the same period, China’s growth is predicted at 4 percent and the Eurozone at two percent. U.S. companies have profit margins of 15 percent, higher than since 1950. Matthew A. Winkler wrote:  

“[The U.S. is] outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century, and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” 

The jobless rate dropped from 6.2 percent in February, Biden’s first month in office, to 4.2 percent. His administration created 4.1 million jobs, more than new jobs in the 12 years of George W. Bush and DDT. Biden is the only president over the past half century with robust increases in non-farm payrolls (4.3 percent) and manufacturing jobs (2.6 percent). approaching the gains enjoyed by Carter in general employment (4.6%) and factory workers (3.9%).

Wages in the U.S. are increasing at an annual rate of four percent compared with under one percent in the Eurozone. The American Rescue Plan, passed by only Democrats in March cut child poverty in half when it put $66 billion into 36 million households. Over 4.6 million more people have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act—a total of 13.6 million insured people under the law. On Biden’s inauguration day, only 46 percent of the schools were open; now 99 percent are.

On the foreign-exchange market, the dollar strengthened 7.37 percent this year, the most under a presidential first year since Ronald Reagan. U.S. stocks outperformed the world equity market by 6.3 percentage points, the biggest advantage since 1988.   

Biden’s ratings in market and economic indicators for his first year when compared to seven previous presidents–no one matching Biden’s combination of No. 1 and No. 2 rankings:

  • Gross domestic product (1)
  • Profit growth (1)
  • S&P 500 performance (2)
  • Consumer credit (1)
  • Non-farm payrolls (2)
  • Manufacturing jobs (2)
  • Business productivity (2)
  • Dollar appreciation (2)
  • S&P 500 relative performance (2)

November saw the passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to repair roads and bridges while getting broadband to areas lacking it. Over 93 percent of House Republican and 62 percent of GOP senators refused to support the infrastructure bill although many of them are now taking credit with its benefits when talking to their constituents. The law will help 2022 because it creates jobs. Republicans voted against it to keep Biden from positive publicity.

The only complaint people seem to have about Biden’s economy seems to be inflation, at 6.8 percent in November and the highest in 39 years. Yet gas prices are falling, under $3 a gallon in 12 states and $.25 a gallon lower in 36 U.S. cities, with skyrocketing gasoline inventories.  

The media were traumatized by problems with the supply chain, but 99 percent of packages arrived on time for the holiday, an improvement over the past two years. While U.S. major ports process almost one-fifth more containers in volume than two years earlier, European port container traffic stayed flat or declined. Consumer goods moved off the shelves at a 45 percent higher rate than in 2018, and expenditures is estimated at 11.5 percent more for the holiday season than a year ago. Consumer demand was a huge problem for the global supply chain bottlenecks.

According to polls, 63 percent said they think the nation’s economy is in bad shape because of bad news, and only 19 percent hear the good news about the economy. Part of that comes from how GOP congressional members have falsely convinced 91 percent of their party that the U.S. economy is in fair/poor condition. 

Why are people complaining about higher prices? Medications, rentals, houses costs, health insurance, etc.—the prices for all these have gone through ceiling for several years, but the media has never pushed them as “inflation.” At the same time, wages stayed largely static, but most people didn’t view these problems as a crisis. Now even with inflation outpacing the current wage increases, the bottom 60 percent of workers have more money left over than during pre-pandemic.

Publicity about inflation is being sensationalized by corporate lobbying groups such as the Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to promote conservatism. Corporate media looks for one family drinking 48 gallons of milk to push the idea of milk inflation, actually higher a decade ago, or complaints about gas prices, again higher a decade ago, by someone driving an older gas-guzzler. Corporations wanting to lower wages falsely state salary increases for lower-paid workers causes inflation. Yet the following issues are not addressed in the mainstream media:

Inflation by the Top: Corporate greed and power are jacking up the prices for the wealthy who can then spend tens of millions of dollars in speculation and purchasing “digital art” only on their computers. Income gains for the rich far outpaced inflation.

Corporate Consolidation: A few companies dominate the market for essential goods such as diapers and meat and insulin. At the same time, Republicans fight any kind of regulation to control unreasonable increases in prices.

Wars and Fossil Fuels: Despite fear mongering about government spending, the deficit, and inflation, Congress is delighted to pass a military budget larger than presidents’ requests. For political reasons, some presidents also start wars with the hopes they will provide reelection. Gas prices are also highly volatile because they are controlled in the Middle East, but conservatives fight clean energy which is less liable to inflation.

Health Care and Housing Costs: Conservative lawmakers refuse pass laws to address long-term inflation: healthcare costs have risen faster in the past 30 years than in any other sector, but conservatives won’t control drug prices.  

The Fed Tradeoff: The Federal Reserve requirement to maintain price stability and maximum employment is managed largely by adjusting interest rates and buying government bonds. Sixteen months ago, Chair Jerome Powell changed its inflation policy. Instead of keeping interest rates high leading to low inflation and keeping unemployment high enough to block worker bargaining power, he kept low interest rates to reach full employment with concern for high inflation. At this time, higher interest rates would slow market recovery; higher inflation is less devastating than mass unemployment. 

Price Controls: Congress could lower inflation without mass unemployment if it created price controls, used in the past during wartime. This move would block corporations from jacking up prices beyond the increased cost of input to report huge profits. During the first nine months of 2021, the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations made $174 billion in profits–$74.9 net income for two dozen of them in just the third quarter.

Climate Change: Conservatives refuse to recognize the existence of global warming, but food prices have gone up because of changes in crop yield.

It’s to the advantage of Republicans to keep inflation high because it helps their chances of having majorities in the legislators. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called it a “gold mine.”  Just like using a strategy of promoting COVID infections and deaths to make Democrats look bad, conservatives care nothing for people. They just want to keep their position and gather wealth. And like COVID, they won’t fix it if they become the majority party.

December 29, 2021

Jordan Says He Wants ‘Truth’ about January 6

Last Sunday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who refuses to talk to the House January 6 committee about his involvement with the insurrection, said, “It is our job to tell the truth and take the truth to the American people.” On the Fox network, political adviser Kristal Knight talked about serious allegations that Jordan concealed sexual crimes while he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University. She added, “This is the same Jim Jordan who sent a text on Jan. 5 encouraging the insurrection.” Jordan, in his search for the “truth,” has indicated great difficulty remembering the times of his personal calls with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

These are some “truths” that Jordan is avoiding.

Jordan’s “truth” can begin with the new three-hour video from DOJ of January 6’s battle between rioters and police with attackers’ weapons and beatings of officers.

For the House investigation committee, a team of 40 investigators and staff members, including federal prosecutors, have compiled over 30,000 records and interviewed over 300 witnesses, including a dozen last week who provided “key” testimony, according to committee members. Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the committee wants to ask Jordan about coup participants being offered presidential pardons before DDT left the White House.

Also on the hot seat is Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) who refused to submit to voluntary testimony by stating he “will continue to fight the failures of the left.” He also declared “immense respect for the Constitution.” The committee has evidence that Perry, a believer in the “stolen” election, had “an important role” in moving DOJ official Jeffrey Clark into the acting attorney general position. Clark was key in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential results, feeding DDT’s lies of voter fraud. Perry communicated DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows through the encrypted Signal app. Clark has already said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In his fifth term in Congress, Perry has spread lies such as an aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) committing a “substantial security threat’ with “massive” data transfers. She was cleared. He also accused then-CNN host Chris Cuomo of exaggerating the lack of water and electricity in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, connected to almost 3,000 deaths, and contradicted law enforcement by trying to connect the mass shooting in Las Vegas to the Islamic State. Perry was one of 18 House Republicans to vote against a resolution condemning QAnon.

Other subpoenaed witnesses for testimony are trying DDT’s ploy of taking their objections to the courts. A federal judge already denied Michael Flynn’s motion for a temporary retraining order. Flynn hasn’t worked in the administration since he was fired as national security adviser under three weeks after DDT’s inauguration. Flynn is also joined by convicted Alex Jones, who is also suing to hide documents.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade adviser who was discovered by DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on Amazon books, outlined how he and DDT’s former adviser Steve Bannon planned and carried out “Green Bay Sweep” for January 6. He said they “spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators…. At 1 p.m., [Arizona’s Rep. Paul] Gosar and [Texas’ Sen. Ted] Cruz did exactly what was expected of them.” The plan “was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings” and “bypass the corporate media.” Each congressional chamber is required to allow up to two hours debate for each challenged state. For six states, that’s 24 hours.

Another committee search is into DDT’s telephone calls to his troops at the Willard Hotel working on plans to overturn the election. Although the committee cannot ask for one specific call from the National Archives, it can request all White House calls on January 5 and 6. Because VP Mike Pence didn’t want to follow DDT’s plan to stop the counting of electoral votes, DDT asked his team led by lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn, and strategist Steve Bannon to find another way to delay certification. Giuliani may be getting a subpoena for information. On the evening of January 5, DDT talked with lawyers and non-lawyers at the Willard separately because Giuliani didn’t want non-lawyers on the calls to jeopardize attorney-client privilege claims. Committee member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said that this privilege doesn’t protect people committing crimes from investigating them. Subpoenas reveal only the target and time of calls.

The January 6 committee wants to see the multiple videos DDT made during the insurrection and not used because the team said they wouldn’t calm the rioting, according to committee chair Bennie Thompson (R-MS). The final one was made out in the open in front of the White House although VP Mike Pence and congressional members of both parties, the first three people in the presidential line of succession, had to hide from the violent attackers. During DDT’s 187-minute delay, five people died, 140 people including police officers were wounded, and lawmakers feared for their lives, some of the contracting COVID because of their forced proximity.

The Pentagon indicated that military leaders didn’t call out the National Guard for fear that DDT would invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to take power and block the orderly reading of electoral votes. The Guard wasn’t deployed until DDT released his video telling the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol. When DDT walked across the cleared protesters for his photo-op in front of a church, his aides had already prepared a draft of the order to deploy troops in the city under the Insurrection Act. Three days before the insurrection, the ten living defense secretaries published a warning op-ed in the Washington Post about the unconstitutional danger of using “U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes.

DDT may face the same charge as 240 insurrectionists at the Capitol—obstructing an official congressional proceeding, a tactic never before seen for an event never before seen. A provision in the statute against witness tampering makes it a crime for anyone who “corruptly… obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding,” or tries to do so. Even a DDT-appointed judge approved the use of this provision against rioters.

The question is what happens to the person who led hundreds of people facing time for interrupting Congress during certification of the 2020 election results. Committee vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), an experienced lawyer, made this suggestion when she referred to “another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceeding to count electoral votes?” Later The New York Times reported that the committee is considering a request for the DOJ charge him.

Legal scholars said this charge could be successful if DDT refused advisers’ pleas to intervene and redirect the crowd after explicitly intending the attack to happen. Another reason would be holding back the National Guard or federal law enforcement forces from rescuing the people under attack. These could fall under Cheney’s term “inaction.” 

Other possible crime by planners of the overthrow is wire fraud by Republicans raising millions of dollars asserting a stolen election knowing it was a lie. The committee subpoenaed a bank for financial records during the weeks before January 6 belonging to Taylor Budowich, DDT’s spokesman and a senior advisor to his 2020 campaign. He allegedly moved $200,000 into advertising for the January 6 rally from an unidentified organization. Budowich is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank to have the subpoena suppressed. 

To overturn a lower court, DDT went to the Supreme Court to block the House committee from obtaining his records from the National Archives and Records, but a change from the investigating group may stymie his argument. The committee is pulling requests for some records at this time to make sure they get the ones they really need. DDT has lost his argument that the subpoena was too broad with the removal of non-1/6 related documents.

Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) says he “should have voted to certify because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.” He voted for DDT’s impeachment and tweeted, “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.” Other Republicans trying to distance themselves from January 6 legal problems include Senate Minority mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has suddenly legitimized the House investigation committee. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), claimed by rally organizer Ali Alexander to be a part of the team, can’t remember hearing of Alexander. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-) also can’t remember “communicating” with Alexander, as he had claimed. In October, another rally organizer told the media about talking “to Boebert’s team, [Rep. Madison] Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back.” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) denied “any role” in the January 6 event, either “planning or execution.” 

The coming year will see the next phase of committee work when it moves to public hearings. Committee chair Thompson said the next progression is also “to see whether or not some of the things that we have uncovered or discovered rises to the level of a criminal referral.”

December 27, 2021

COVID’s Political Problems

President Joe Biden promised to help states with the pandemic but told governors that states need to take the lead in controlling the coronavirus, meaning they will be responsible for infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Thus far, the number of infections per 1 million have varied from 225,108 in North Dakota to 73,293 in Hawaii with deaths per million between 3,494 in Mississippi and 739 in Vermont. Despite heavy criticism for the pandemic handling from conservatives in my state of Oregon, the infection rate is second from the bottom at 98,190 below only six states below Oregon at 1,333 deaths per million.

A major reason for these differences is state administration. At least 19 states created laws this year blocking state or local authorities from public health guards such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and promoting or requiring vaccinations. Legislatures in other states are considering similar statutes, all in the name of “individual liberties” and allow people “a voice in public health.” Ohio goes so far as to restrict closing restaurants to protect customers from an outbreak of foodborne disease. Montana doesn’t require vaccinations for anyone working in hospitals or clinics in opposition to a federal order.  

Politics have played a huge part in hospitalizations and deaths because of deaths. The new Omicron variant and the skyrocketing rate of infections and deaths in some states has caused a spate of vaccinations, but blue states have above average rates of vaccinations with red states below average. The vaccination map looks like the election map with battleground states in the middle. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is an example of the Republican attitude when he tweets “Real America is done with #COVID19” and later called the public health protection policies a “two-year attack on our liberties.” Since vaccines became common, states voting for DDT have an over 50 percent higher risk of people dying from the coronavirus. Since February 1, 2021, red states have an average of 116 COVID deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 77 deaths in blue states. Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia—all states voting for DDT—have the worst per capita death rates. The difference between red and blue counties is even more pronounced.

The numbers for red states may be less than accurate. The state’s health department found an undercount in two labs of 7,699 COVID cases during nine months this year. Missouri’s incumbent Attorney General Eric Schmitt, also a U.S. Senate candidate, has already declared mask mandates, quarantines, and other public health policies illegal. He also told public health agencies in several counties to stop “announcements of current cases/deaths.”

Five states that refused federal unemployment benefits because of “lazy people not looking for work,” are now rewarding jobless people who refused vaccinations by giving them state unemployment. Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee have passed laws for the benefit and other Missouri, Wisconsin, and Wyoming may follow. Despite protests to vaccines, under five percent of workers have left jobs anywhere because of vaccination mandates.

The media also plays a large part in causing infections and deaths. A study from last year shows that people relying on conservative media and social media are more likely to have inaccurate beliefs about COVID’s seriousness. The poll also agreed with the red-blue state results: Republicans worry less than Democrats that they or family members would be exposed and less likely to consider COVID a major health threat. The same conservatives are also more likely to trust worthless preventions and cures and thought CDC was using the virus to undermine DDT instead of DDT actually undermining CDC. Over a year later, much more is known about the coronavirus, the conservative media is much more likely to lie about the knowledge, and conservatives less likely to believe its dangers.

Among religious groups, the evangelicals have the lowest acceptance of vaccinations—41 percent compared to 60 percent to 72 percent percent of other Christians and Jewish Americans. By now, religious anti-Vaxxers are so hardwired in their beliefs that only one percent self-identified as vaccine refusers said they might change their minds if a religious leader encouraged them to reverse their opinion. Only 11 percent of vaccine hesitant would be vaccinated with persuasion from a religious leader.

Even DDT, their cult leader, cannot convince them after he was negative or lukewarm about vaccinations for over a year. In the midst of his campaign five years ago, DDT claimed he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and people would still vote for him. The audience cheered. When he said he had gotten a COVID booster vaccination and said vaccines have “saved tens of millions of lives worldwide,” however, people booed.    

DDT went even farther in an interview with Candace Owens, a conservative talk show host. He told her “the vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind.” She pushed back, and he responded:

“Oh no, the vaccines work. The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine…. If you take the vaccine, you’re protected… I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines all are very, very good.”

DDT wasn’t the scientist who developed the vaccine, but they went on the market before he left the White House. Right now, he wants the glory while he’s pursued in court by alleged crimes in Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. GOP pollster Frank Luntz thought DDT’s claim would cause Republicans to be vaccinated, but the result hasn’t been all positive. Far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich said DDT was “alienating his own supporters to impress people who don’t like him.” Another conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, forced to pay plaintiffs on two different defamation charges, called DDT either “completely ignorant” or “the most evil man who has ever lived to push this toxic poison on the public and to attack your constituents when they simply try to save their lives and the lives of others.”

In what she may have thought was politeness, Owens stuck in the knife during a video on Instagram:

“People oftentimes forget, like, how old Trump is. Like they came from a time before TV, before internet, before being able to conduct their independent research.”

In the video, Owens, 32, also pushed colloidal silver to fight off the coronavirus, saying she takes a “teaspoon a day” or “more when I’m sick.” With no medical support for this purpose, colloidal silver, possibly causing organ failure, permanently turns the user’s skin a bluish-gray color, an irreversible syndrome called argyria.

The question is whether DDT’s vaccine promotion will regain suburban voters, as Joe Scarborough said he’s trying to do, while keeping his lunatic fringe. Known for his Christmas greetings from his family all holding semi-automatic guns, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said his voters and others like those who supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “weren’t voting for libertarian ideas—they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race. And Donald Trump won best in class, as we had up until he came along.” And DDT may be trying to keep his voters alive until 2024.

Hypocrisy runs rampant among Republicans. Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has pandered to every anti-health policy—vaccinations, wearing masks, etc.—and even owed $60,000 in fines for not wearing a mask on the House floor by mid-November. She also owns stocks in three different companies manufacturing COVID vaccines. Conservative Christians endanger people around them by using the “religious freedom” claim as a “get-out-of-vaccination-free” card even if they had to pay clergy to sign for religious exemptions. Then they used the claim for everything else they don’t like—abortion, although Jewish people state life beings at birth, not conception; travel from Muslim countries; LGBTQ rights; etc.

According to medical experts, neurological effects from COVID can create the inability to think clearly which includes headaches, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and vivid dreams as well as strokes and seizures with over 80 percent of COVID patients encountering complications. Even mild cases can alter brain activity analogous to mild cognitive impairment. And conservatives won’t get vaccinated.

People fighting vaccinations don’t realize that COVID can stay in the body’s organs—heart, brain, etc.—for at least up to eight months, according to autopsies up to 230 days after patients first reported symptoms. Disseminating during early infection, the disease infects cells throughout the entire body, widely in the brain as well as in eyes, muscles, skin, peripheral nerves, and tissues in the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and lymphatic systems. This research explains why long COVID exists in people with either mild or asymptomatic infections.

Deaths from COVID in the U.S. = 839,605 with over 1,000 a day. 

December 25, 2021

Christmas 2021: A New Era

During the four years when First Lady Melania Trump designed the Christmas décor for the White House, several volunteer florists followed her directions much to the difference of public opinion regarding the FLOTUS style. After criticism of the bare branches during her first year, people laughed at her basic red topiary trees lining the East Colonnade for the next year. By the last year, in the midst of COVID, Trump claimed the safer décor of transport and native wildlife from the nation’s students came from her coast-to-coast travels during the term of now Deposed Donald Trump (DDT).

The year 2021 represents a more traditional approach from the past four years starting with the theme, “Gifts from the Heart.” Decorations illustrate faith, community, family, friendship, learning, nature, gratitude, service, peace, unity and the arts. Included are the East Colonnade’s doves and shooting stars for bravery and selflessness, the library’s 2,700 books joined by butterflies and birds from recycled newspapers, paintings and other decorations for Visual Arts in the Vermeil Room, Friendship and Sharing in the China Room with tableware from past presidential families, Gratitude in the East Room, trees with natural orchids and purple ornaments for Nature in the Green Room, (left) Peace and Unity in the Blue Room, Performing Arts with hanging brass instruments in the Red Room, and Family with ornaments and photographs of past and present presidential families in the State Dining Room as well as the official 2021 Gingerbread White House. Christmas Trees in the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall illuminate Faith and Community with scenes of towns and cities. 

Melania Trump’s blood red trees haven’t disappeared. Publicity indicated they were dragged out for a DDT fundraiser at Naples (FL) on December 3. For $10,000 a person or $30,000 for a family for four, each one can get one—no more—selfie with DDT in the airport hanger with Melania’s trees. It is supposedly “not a political fundraiser,” but no one knows where the money goes although DDT “does get a piece of the pie.” The event receive little media notice before and none afterwards.

On the other hand, one volunteer florist for Jill Biden’s White House decorations received a great deal of notice. Jasmine Kaidbey (right) wrote Dr. Biden a letter, asking her to include her mother Suha Kaidbey, among the over 100 volunteer florists for the 2021 White House holiday decorations. Her mother had never been accepted before, and it was her dream to help with the event. Jasmine Kaidbey’s parents left their careers in Beirut, Lebanon, to escape a civil war and opened their Washington, D.C. floral shop, Le Printemps, in 1983. COVID took business away from their arranging flowers for ambassadors, governors, congressional members, Supreme Court justices, and former first ladies, and the Le Printemps struggled with the loss of contracts with hotels that had no guests. Jasmine, a Ph.D. student in public health at George Washington University, took over some of the store’s duties. In late November, Suha was at the White House for three days in the East Room, State Dining Room, the China Room, and the first lady’s office.

The right-wing media, sometimes with help from the mainstream media, has steadily criticized President Joe Biden throughout the holiday season. The supply chain was a constant topic as Biden was accused of “ruining” Christmas because presents wouldn’t appear on time. Yet packages are rolling on time after much work by Biden’s administration, and Fox is working on another spin. Jesse Watters, who encouraged a QAnon crowd to “ambush” and “kill” Dr. Anthony Fauci, admitted the delivery has improved but doesn’t know if Biden deserves credit, saying consumers and ports fixed the problem.  

DDT, however, is taking credit for ending the far-right-manufactured “War on Christmas”: Mike Huckabee on Newsmax told DDT he was responsible for returning “Merry Christmas” to the greeting instead of “Happy Holidays.” DDT agreed, saying, “When I started campaigning, I said you’re going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again, and now people are saying it.” He continued, “Whether you’re Muslim, whether you’re Christian, whether you’re Jewish, everyone loves Christmas.” Yet, this year’s far-right Newsmax company gathering, mandating vaccinations, is called a “Holiday Reception.”

In 2021, the Fox network moved from the mythical disaster of not saying “Merry Christmas” to the biggest tragedy of the past century, according to Foxers—the burning of its “fake” $500,000 tree in front of its New York’s headquarters on December 8. The facts: a mentally-disabled homeless man allegedly started the fire burning the tree. Fox made over 100 mentions of their burning tree in less than 36 hours, far more coverage than for the killing of four people in a Michigan school the prior week. Tucker Carlson called the burning a hate crime, an attack on Christianity like the burning of a Koran. The chyron running on the bottom of the screen below Fox host Tammy Bruce read, “THE LEFT WANTS YOU TO BE AFRAID.”

Fox contributor Jacque DeGraff compared the burning to the bombing of Pearl Harbor when he said, “These colors don’t run” in what could be a comparison between their tree and the nation’s flag. Pearl Harbor killed 2,335 U.S. military members and wounded another 1,143 along with 68 civilian casualties and 35 wounded. The plastic tree was replaced with no casualties 41 hours later.

Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said:

“It’s a tree that unites us. Brings us together… It’s about Jesus. It’s about Hanukkah. It is about everything we stand for as a country. Freedom and being able to worship the way that you want to worship.”

Instead of repeating the complaint about “the war on Christmas” for 2021, Fox concentrated on its tree, but fundamentalist Christians opposed “Christmas trees” for the America’s first two and a half centuries. In fact, the same religious people opposed Christmas celebrations. Gift-giving and card exchanges didn’t appear until the middle of the 1800s, and the day didn’t become a legal holiday in some states until the 1860s. The U.S. declared December 25 a legal holiday on June 26, 1870.

Protestant groups such as Puritans refused the recognition because Christmas isn’t in the bible. Like today, fundamentalists stuck to a strict interpretation of Christianity, seeing Christmas celebrations as a pagan practice—as indeed it is. In addition, Robert Skinner’s Christs Birth Misse-timed (1649) found the date was miscalculated, proving that “all error cometh from Rome.” The presence of lambs in December adds to the confusion because they aren’t born until spring.

In 1632, Puritan pamphleteer William Prynne equated Christmas celebrations with “paganizing priests and monks,” and Puritan Thomas Mockett’s relation of Christmas with Catholicism tied it to “riotous drinking, health drinking, gluttony, luxury, wantonness, dancing, dicing, stage-plays, interludes, masks, mummeries.” Puritan Philip Stubbs Christmas a time of “great wickedness.” New England almanacs didn’t list December 25 as the birth of Christ, and colonial records have almost no references to Christmas celebration. In his 1687 pamphlet “Against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs,” Increase Mather wrote, “The manner of Christ-mass-keeping, as generally observed, is highly dishonourable to the Name of Christ.”

Puritans tried to use government and the law to fight Christmas, passing a 1659 law fining anyone “found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way’ five shillings.” December 25 to dispel any notion that there was something special about the day. The English Parliament fined people for desecrating churches with seasonal decorations and imprisoning ministers who preached on the Nativity. In 1642, Christmas plays were outlawed, and December 25 was designated as a day of repentance for fasting, not feasting, in 1647.

The first Christmas tree on display in the United States didn’t appear until the 1830s. It was installed by German settlers in Pennsylvania. 

Both the current president and the former occupant of the White House issued brief messages for Christmas. Banned from Twitter, DDT sent a statement from his Save America PAC:

“Merry Christmas to all. We will Make America Great Again!” – President Donald J. Trump

Among the critics who pointed out that DDT is no longer president, Chartruce Powell responded:

“We already did. YOU GOT FIRED.”

President Biden tweeted:

“From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! May your time with loved ones be filled with warmth, comfort, and joy this holiday season.”

We are indeed in a new era. May it last. And may everyone have satisfying holidays.

December 22, 2021

Fallout of Lord Manchin’s Anti-BBB Continues

The man who controls the fate of democracy and economy in the United States deserves another column. Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WY) has arrogantly stalled for months and used his personal needs to change the Build Back Better (BBB) act. He also preened about demanding bipartisanship for federal voting act to remove some of the state’s oppression before voting with all the Republicans and only one other Democrat to remove President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large private businesses’ employees. Now his feelings are hurt.

During all these months, his colleagues and the people in the White House treated him with courtesy while changing and changing the parameters of BBB depending on which way Manchin’s hot air blew. Democrats finally got fed up after he said “no!” to the bill to help the nation’s people and its economy on the Fox network with no heads up to Democratic leadership and only 30 minutes warning to the White House. He pompously said, “They know the real reason what happened. They won’t tell you and I’m not going to.” He further claimed that it’s the “staff [who] put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable.”

A week ago, a conversation about Manchin’s opposition to the child tax credit was supposedly leaked. When a reporter asked about his position, Manchin called the question “bullshit.” In the midst of his whining this week, Manchin said he knew from the beginning, five months ago, that the negotiations would fail but he kept all the Democrats, including Biden, dangling at the end of his line.

Manchin also said that no one would make any concessions, despite the reduction of the bill by one half to $175 billion a year for ten years. For Manchin, Democrats shrank problems such as paid leave from 12 to four weeks and eliminated such major policies as Biden’s biggest idea to cut emissions, the Clean Electricity Performance Program. Manchin still opposes any paid leave: he claims people in West Virginia use it only to go deer hunting.

Manchin complained about a child tax credit being an “entitlement” and accused his constituents of using all the money for drugs. Parents receiving this tax credit since this spring’s American Rescue Plan have mostly used the money in these ways:    

  • 43 percent – pay down debts.
  • 20 percent – saved it.
  • 37 percent – bought food, clothing, housing, and child care.

Following Manchin’s skewed rationale, people should not receive wages. He also thinks it’s okay for people to have highly inflated stock increases—like he does—but any welfare should be highly restricted. West Virginians have noted the inequality between them and their senators; he bought a yacht for his Washington, D.C. home and drives a Maserati, costing three times the state’s annual median income. Will Bunch has this description of Lord Manchin.

A flotilla of activists to demand that he support the Build Back Better Act.

Last fall, protesters from West Virginia kayaked around Manchin’s yacht to beg for jobs, lower drug prices, climate protection, and other provisions in BBB. He assured them that the rich would pay their “fair share” and that the bill would be a success.

The latest protest to Manchin’s actions came from Josh Sword, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, who stated that BBB also helps the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund benefits for the state’s coal miners. Other BBB provisions are protecting collective bargaining and workers’ organizing, creating home care workers jobs, expanding senior and disabled care, and investing $4 billion in coal communities “to attract manufacturing companies that will provide good-paying, union jobs.”

The United Mine Workers also want BBB because the bill calls for alternative energy manufacturing in “coal-producing areas of the country.” Fossil fuel jobs will certainly keep declining, and BBB will give displaced workers a greater chance for replacement jobs. Since 2012, 45,000 coal mining jobs have been lost, many of them under DDT. Although Manchin has supported tax credits for equipment manufacturing in alternative energy industries, he now objects to BBB’s climate provisions such as subsidies for fossil fuel companies’ transition.

Manchin said he opposes BBB because of his made-up threats, but these are the real threats without BBB:

  • Child poverty increased by 40 percent, destroying parents’ ability to provide food, shelter, sustenance, and upward mobility necessary for the future of the United States. U.S. child poverty will continue to be the highest in the developed world, resulting in lack of health for children into their adulthood.
  • Lack of universal pre-kindergarten, making young people less likely to graduate from high school and attend college as well as making them more likely to be arrested, need welfare, and be unemployed as adults. Pre-K participants pay more taxes because they make higher wages.
  • No extended healthcare subsidies decreasing life expectancy. Infant and maternal mortality rates will continue to be far behind other developed countries.
  • Lack of childcare keeping 20 million women out of the workforce.
  • Continued high drug prices producing illness for people who cannot afford inflated costs for such medications as insulin controlling diabetes. As President Joe Biden pointed out, drug companies are selling a formula costing from $.10 to $10 to make at $560 to $650 a month, perhaps even $1,000.
  • Increased climate warming with ensuing biodiversity extinction, more erratic—and lethal—weather patterns, and rising seas.
  • A delay to the future costing higher interest rates.

Manchin depicts West Virginians as independent, undeserving of “entitlements,” but 32 percent of its residents’ personal income, higher than any other state in the nation, comes from the government—retirement, disability, medical, welfare, veterans, unemployment, education, and training.

Goldman Sachs responded to Manchin’s “No!” by predicting that his killing the BBB would shrink the GDP from three to two percent because failure to pass the bill had “negative growth implications.” The bill’s vision is pre-1981—good jobs for households and a focus on children, families, and communities.

Manchin’s requirement for any benefits is limited by absolute proof that they are needed, work requirements. The result is inaccessibility for people who need them, for example, work requirements for grandparents who care for their grandchildren to receive child tax payments. The myth that anyone looking for a job can get one is particularly false in states like West Virginia. His ideas also spend much of the money from recipients by paying for wasteful administration.

His eligibility limits to a small group of “deserving” people, according to Manchin’s standards, also are politically vulnerable. Wilbur Cohen, “father” of Social Security and Medicare, stated, “A program that is only for the poor—one that has nothing in it for the middle income and the upper income—is, in the long run, a program the American public won’t support… Programs for the poor make poor programs.”

Twp of the wealthiest men in history, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, believed in Social Darwinism—some people are inherently worthier than others because of “better” genes. They viewed themselves the fittest and the poor unworthy, lazy people who they had to push to improve their lives. Their perspective is representative of conservative, anti-government philosophy with a paranoia that people receiving government benefits may take advantage of their “betters.” Their solution is to make life so horrible for people in poverty that they will go to work. This was the thinking that opposed Social Security in 1935, despite the “benefit” is paid back from taxes that people on Social Security have paid. Opponents called it socialism. Others call it “entitlements” and refer to “makers” and “takers.”

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1938, government has always benefits the wealthy the most:

“The first to turn to Government, the first to receive protection from Government, were not the poor and the lowly—those who had no resources other than their daily earnings—but the rich and the strong. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the United States passed protective laws designed, in the main, to give security to property owners, to industrialists, to merchants and to bankers….Because it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to build their own security single-handed, Government must now step in and help them lay the foundation stones, just as Government in the past has helped lay the foundation of business and industry.”

Wealthy companies still receive the bulk of subsidies, a type of socialism and welfare, and the Republicans gave big business and the richest people most of the tax cuts in its 2017 law.

To give Manchin a tiny bit of credit, he met on a conference call with the Democratic senatorial caucus Tuesday evening after Republicans again begged him to switch parties. Even as the majority Senate party, the GOP would still need his votes—an iffy thing with Manchin’s record of refusing to vote in favor of any bills except for blocking vaccine mandates.

At the Democratic meeting, Manchin said he still has “concerns,” but he talked. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) left open the possibility of an agreement although he still plans to bring BBB on a motion-to-proceed vote in the new year. Conservative billionaires and companies are still giving him massive donations to scuttle BBB, but Manchin may still be looking for a different kind of attention—such as saving the country. He already has the money.  And Christmas is coming.

December 19, 2021

Lord Manchin says ‘No!’

When I was a graduate student at a university in a small Kansas town, I lived in a shabby apartment infested with cockroaches. My cat would chase down one of the insects, catching it on the carpet and taking off one of the legs. It would crawl to the carpet’s edge reaching the wooden floor. You could almost see the sigh of relief before the cat batted it back onto the carpet. Once again, it crawled away from the cat who had taken another leg. The scene occurred time and time again until, finally, the the cat put the cockroach out of its misery. I thought about that torture when, over a decade ago, the Republicans demanded to erase important provisions, time and time again, from the Affordable Care Act. Time and time again, Democrats gave and gave to the Republicans for their support, but at the end, not one Republican voted for the watered-down bill they said they wanted.

The same process happened again over the Build Better Act (BBB), a bill that to help at least two-thirds of the people in the United States with jobs, childcare, etc. while not adding to the debt. Time and time again, the BBB has been watered down and stripped of important provisions, this time not because of Republicans but because two Democratic senators insist on demonstrating their power. Today, the bill may be dead after “Lord” Sen. Joe Manchin (R-KY) announced with much fanfare on Fox network and no notification to Democrats that he refuses to vote for the bill he had helped create.

Every time, the bill was close to passing, Manchin would put it off—later in the fall, then not until Christmas, and the most recent excuse, next year. Today, he pompously announced, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.” His excuse this time was the national debt which Dictator Donald Trump (a Republican in case you’re forgotten) raised by $7.8 trillion during his four years. Of course, Manchin had not problem adding to the military bill each year, including the one for next year despite no idea where the money goes and the U.S. finally getting out of its two long wars started by George W. Bush, another Republican. He also damned “my Democratic colleagues in Washington [who] are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.” (Manchin never bothers to explain anything he says.)

Manchin knows that no Republican will vote for BBB because of their fear that Democrats will gain votes by benefiting people. Without Manchin, the bill won’t have the 50 votes necessary to pass the Senate. As Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, pointed out, Manchin reneged on his promise last week to work for a compromise agreement after Democrats made one compromise after another, removing over half the bill’s expenditure. Before today’s declaration, Manchin had provided his own concept for the BBB, also costing $1.85 trillion.

Although Manchin claims he doesn’t want to spend the money for the bill, he said this week that his new outline costs the same. In fact, he doesn’t want the provisions that might cause him to lose any money, both from his businesses and his Republican donors. Manchin’s daughter, who works for a large pharmaceutical company, opposes regulations on drug prices; during her career, she has ensured that her employers gain massive profits by huge increases in drug prices. The BBB would save $700 billion during the next decade, but the pharmaceutical industry has spent $263 million on lobbying against the bill this year with millions more going to a dark money group. Manchin’s campaign received over $1.5 million from corporations opposed to BBB.

Manchin comes from one of the poorest states in the nation, and the BBB would benefit his constituents. His refusal removes a $300 monthly payment to families with children, a payment he supported for the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package under nine months ago. Gone will be health coverage for 3.4 million more people. Medicare drug prices can’t be regulated. Slowing down climate change disappears, despite the state’s devastating floods. Manchin sees no need for paid family and medical leave although the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without these benefits. He had already decreased the time for this benefit to four weeks.

In 2018, Manchin’s net worth was $7.6 million and is higher now. The 2021 media household income in West Virginia is $51,615, almost $30,000 under the national average. The expanded child tax credit alone would cut poverty by 40 percent in the nation. Health care in West Virginia is abysmal: one-fourth of the people don’t have their natural teeth, the highest rate in the U.S., because they can’t afford dental care. Manchin says adding dental care to Medicare costs too much.

Also in West Virginia:

  • No state in the lower 48 is more vulnerable to flood damage.
  • Forty-six of the state’s roads are at risk of inundation.  
  • Sixty-one percent of its power plants are at risk, twice the national average.
  • Slanted trade deals destroyed one-third of its manufacturing jobs, and energy innovation destroyed most of its coal jobs, thus the entire industry. Wages and income for coal miners dropped from 16 percent of the state’s total labor income in 1982 to seven percent by the mid-1990s. 
  • A disproportionate number of the poorest parents without jobs live in the state.

With his wealth, Manchin complains about an “entitlement mentality” from providing child and health care for poor people on low wages. His participation in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) contributed to their drafting and spreading model bills to block labor unions, public-school funding, welfare, voting rights and environmental regulations. Senior lobbyist for ExxonMobil Keith McCoy called him the “kingmaker” on ridding legislation of emissions reductions and fossil-fuel companies’ taxes, including his own. Manchin claimed that Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created Social Security, never sent “a damn penny to a human being.” FDR talked about his “struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.  They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” Those are the real “entitlements.”

Manchin’s family business makes millions of dollars by selling waste coal from abandoned mines to a power plant emitting air pollution at a higher rate than any other plant in the state. It’s a good reason for him to fight any changes slowing climate change. He claims it’s in a blind trust, but much of his earnings comes from outside that trust. Manchin wants coal power over clean electricity, a much cheaper alternative, and his state’s electricity costs increased five times more than the national average between 2010 and 2019.

With four percent of the population, the U.S. supplies 20 percent of global CO2 emissions. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide, making them more acidic which kills marine life. When there is no more room for absorption, the rest of it stays in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, keeping the earth hot. China’s President Xi Jinping  just announced the world’s largest wind-and-solar farm, generating four times the number of gigawatts that the U.S. does at this time. By 2025, unsubsidized solar power with battery storage in China will be cheaper than coal. Manchin has joined the Republicans in coming in second—or farther down—to China.

Manchin says BBB will add to inflation, but no legitimate study proves that. Instead, the bill cuts out-of-pocket costs for childcare, healthcare, housing, eldercare, and energy. And it would be paid by tax increases on large corporations, slashed under DDT and the Republicans.

In an attempt to excuse his refusal to support people with the BBB, Manchin cites fake Republican numbers. The Congressional Budget Office predicted BBB would add $36.7 billion a year to the deficit—compared to the annual $2 trillion DDT added—but the Treasury said the increased IRS enforcement in the bill would decrease the deficit. To persuade Manchin, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the cost of making all the programs in the bill permanent for ten years would cost add almost $300 billion per year for ten years. That isn’t the bill that’s being voted on. Psaki said the goal was to “pay for the $2 trillion tax cuts that Republicans didn’t pay for.”

Democrats have been careful about criticizing Manchin for his close friendship with Republicans and rejection of Democratic bills because, after all, he is important as a member of the Senate Democratic majority—for this term. The Democrats’ struggle to work with Manchin and support him, however, is likely gone. While Republicans welcome Manchin with open arms, Democratic lawmakers recommend that they ignore him and proceed to vote on the bill in January, letting him show people in West Virginia that he will deny them all benefits. Other Democrats say he is clearly not “a man of his word” no matter how much he brags about having this characteristic. Manchin may have overplayed his arrogance.

December 18, 2021

House January 6 Hearing Opens Strange Can of Worms

A Florida man has the longest sentence thus far for violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 for emptying a fire extinguisher at Capitol Police officers before throwing it, a plank, and a long pole at them. The 54-year-old had agreed to between 46 and 57 months, but he arranged an online fundraising plea from jail stating lying about what happened. Earlier, he held media interviews depicting himself as a victim. At his sentencing, he said he was ashamed and that Dictator Donald Trump lied to him—like most other convicted rioters. Other sentences are listed here

This prison sentence happened during a turbulent week beginning with revelations by the House January 6 investigation committee regarding texts and emails, many of them secretly to and from former chief of staff Mark Meadows, regarding the GOP and DDT’s conspiracies to overthrow the legal election of President Joe Biden. After turning over almost 9,000 documents to the House and writing a book in which he said DDT had COVID for a week before he was hospitalized, Meadows tried to get back into DDT’s favor. DDT called Meadows “f**king stupid.”

Yesterday, three committee sources reported that former Texas governor and DDT’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry wrote a text to Meadows the day after the election in November 2020 pushing a strategy for three state legislatures to deliver their personally-chosen states’ electors presidential votes, in opposition to the legal votes. Perry denied writing the text, but several people confirmed the telephone number tied to the text belongs to Perry. It is also connected to a database registered to an Energy Department email address while Perry was the secretary for the agency. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) read the text at last Monday’s hearing:

“HERE’s an AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY: Why can t (sic) the states of GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses declare this is BS (where conflicts and election not called that night) and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS.”

The committee wanted to ask Meadows about the text, but he refused to obey a subpoena to appear before the group in a long range plan of stalling. The House sent a charge of contempt against Meadows to the DOJ. The text’s “strategy” was to submit wrong electoral votes before all the legal votes in Georgia and Pennsylvania were counted, thus ignoring the will of the people.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the outs with DDT since his criticism immediately after January 6 about the insurrection, is using this weeks’ information to turn the tide against him. For almost a year, McConnell opposed any investigation into the insurrection, even orchestrating DDT’s impeachment to guarantee an acquittal. After this week’s hearing, he reversed this position and called the January 6 attack “a horrendous event,” adding “what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.” McConnell called the House members “participants.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also tried to stop any investigation, first by appointing Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) on the January 6 committee. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected them, McCarthy used her action against her, and several subpoenaed witnesses call the committee “partisan” despite two GOP members, Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL). Cheney had agreed Jordan shouldn’t be on the committee because he might be subpoenaed.

The ultra-conservative publication The Federalist, from the group with the same name that picked all DDT’s far-right, sometimes inexperienced judicial nominees confirmed by the GOP Senate, outed Jordan as the sender of this text read at the hearing:

“On January 6, 2021, Vice-President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

This text to block Biden from the White House came from Joseph Schmitz, former U.S. Defense Department inspector general. Jordan complained because the full text was not read aloud. The remainder of it, unintentionally proving the idea’s illegality, would not have helped. Plotters maintain that the Constitution gave Pence authority to reject legal election results in exchange for GOP slates in some of Biden’s winning states.

Involved with Jordan and the conspiracy to overturn the election are five other members of the House GOP Freedom Caucus, co-founded by Meadows: Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), and Scott Perry (PA):

Brooks wore a bullet-proof vest while giving an inflammatory speech before the Capitol attack in which he urged the crowd to start “kicking ass.” He is now running for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat.

Gosar, known for close relationships with white supremacists and an anime video depicting his killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-CA), called Pence’s certification of the Electoral College votes “sedition” and praised the violent rioters on January as “peaceful patriots.” After the conspiracy theory about a jet carrying ballots from Arizona to South Korea, Gosar’s chief of staff, Tom Van Flein, rushed to a Phoenix (AZ) airplane hangar parking lot to catch the plane.

Perry went to Jeffrey Clark in the DOJ after the election, promising him a list of voter fraud allegations for him to vet. He now heads up the House Freedom Caucus.

Gohmert sued Pence at the end of December for following the 1887 Electoral Count Act. Gohmert declared that Pence, with no authority or evidence, should decide which states’ votes were counted. He offered to drop the lawsuit if Pence did what Gohmert ordered. Both a Texas federal court rejected the case and a court of appeals refused to take the case. Gohmert is a candidate for Texas attorney general.

This week, the January 6 committee subpoenaed Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel, for his spreading a strategy of elminating enough of Biden’s votes to put DDT back into the White House through his PowerPoint presentation. Waldron sent the presentation to Meadows and communicated with Meadows between eight to ten times as well as discussing his plan with other White House officials and members of Congress. 

This past week, Waldron spoke to a Louisiana state commission about voting reforms. His recommendation to count paper ballots by hand instead of machine-scanned and tallied was considered impractical. Voters in other states already mark paper ballots by hand, but they are scanned and tallied by machines. People at the meeting said they have trouble finding enough election workers, and the manual process would require far more. Plus, as this year’s problem ballot count in Arizona by a private company proved, people don’t always accurately count ballots. Waldron also recommended ballot-counting be streamed live online with ballots scanned and posted only so that voters can check their personal ballots for accuracy. Commissioners explained that this process could raise privacy and secrecy issues as well as delaying the election results. He was invited before his farcical theory to put DDT back in the White House.

The January 6 committee deposition from Roger Stone, a DDT friend who was pardoned for other convictions, lasted less than an hour until he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself. In an interview with the media, he claimed he had done nothing criminal and said lawyers and security cost him $35,000. He asked for contributions to his “legal defense fund.” “Protecting” Stone at the hearing were six people, associated with the far-right anti-government-militia Oath Keepers, who also went inside the Capitol during the January 6 attack.

Other events of the week:

In an interview on CNBC News, MyPilllow CEO Mike Lindell said he has spent $25 million to spread the evidence-free claims of voter fraud and “will spend every dime I have” on the task. The January 6 committee wishes to investigate funding surrounding the day’s events.

On Steve Bannon’s podcast, DDT’s former trade adviser Peter Navarro implicated him in January 6 events while trying to exonerate DDT from blame. He called Bannon, indicted on a contempt charge for not testifying to the House committee, “the hero of January 6th and said, “You were the guy who had the … strategy to go up to Capitol Hill.”

John Eastman, author of a strategy to overturn the 2020 election who took the Fifth to avoid testifying, is suing to conceal data from his phone records with a lawsuit against both Verizon and the House January 6 committee. Four rally organizers are also suing to keep this data private.

Still trying to cover for DDT, Meadows lied to Sean Hannity on his Fox network show about DDT being a hero by ordering 10,000 troops for assistance. Meadows claimed, “The request was rejected—by Pelosi, by congressional leaders, by … the Capitol Police chief.” According to a Vanity Fair reporter embedded with the Defense Department the statement was an offhand remark, not a request. Evidence indicates that DDT made no request and the lies were to cover up for Army officials.

Fox hosts are back to protecting DDT on air. MSNBC Chris Hayes lumps them legislators following the same practice by calling them TOCOs, Trumpers On Camera Only. 

In one victory, both the House and the Senate unanimously voted for a bill permitting the Capitol Police chief to directly call for assistance from the National Guard. On January 6, DDT’s officials stalled for 187 minutes while people were wounded and killed before sending the Guard.

December 14, 2021

Can Meadows, DDT Lie Their Way Out?

Late Tuesday evening, the House voted 222-208 for the DOJ to send DOJ a recommendation to criminally charge Mark Meadows, former chief of staff for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), after he refused to appear for his subpoenaed deposition with the House January 6 investigation committee. Desperate to regain DDT’s support after he revealed that DDT had tested positive a week for COVID a week before his hospitalization, Meadows had reversed his cooperation with the committee. Two Republicans, Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL) voted with all the Democrats. Three Republicans and one Democrat didn’t vote.

Meadows, former North Carolina representative from North Carolina and DDT’s last chief of staff, sold his soul to overturn the government and keep DDT in the White House. He also wrote a book revealing secrets about his boss’s time in office and turned over about 9,000 damning documents to the House January 6 investigating committee, such as the PowerPoint presentation laying out plans for Republicans to take over the nation by overturning the 2020 election.

Sunday night and Monday morning, the committee released more information and voted 9-0 to send a resolution of criminal contempt against Meadows to the House members. News from Sunday’s report about Meadows’ communications:  

The National Guard will be present on January 6 to “protect pro Trump people.” No mention of congressional members or their staff. Or VP Mike Pence.

An exchange of emails with congressional members discussed the appointment of alternate slates of electors as part of a “direct and collateral attack.” Meadows said, “I love it” before, “Yes. Have a team on it.”

Text messages “provided guidance to an organizer of the January 6th rally … after the organizer told Meadows that ‘[t]hings have gotten crazy and I desperately need some direction.'” 

Texts from unnamed congressional members stated Pence “should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.” The day after the insurrection, one lawmaker wrote Meadows, “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objections to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked.”

Meetings and calls discussed the need to “fight” back against “mounting evidence” of purported voter fraud after courts rejected these claims, one of them tweeted from Meadows’ personal account.

Another call days before the January 6 insurrection with DDT, congressional members, DDT’s election campaign attorneys, and “some 300′ State and local officials [discussed] overturning certain States’ electoral college results on January 6, 2021.”

On Monday, Vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) read desperate texts to Meadows with this introduction:

“These texts leave no doubt: the White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol. Members of Congress, the press, and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway… Hours passed without necessary action by the president. These non-privileged texts are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes.”

Texts Cheney read:

Donald Trump Jr: “We need an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.” He also pleaded with Meadows to persuade his father to “condemn this shit Asap. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.”

Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home … this is hurting all of us … he is destroying his legacy.”

Fox & Friends Brian Kilmeade: “Get [DDT] on tv… [Tell him] destroying everything you have accomplished.”

 Sean Hannity: “Can he make a statement? … Ask people to leave the Capitol.”

People hiding in the Capitol on January 6 sent these texts to Meadows:

“We are under siege here at the Capitol.”

“Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol, breaking windows on doors, rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?’

“There’s an armed standoff at the House chamber door.”

“We are all helpless.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talked to Ivanka Trump, asking her to “tell his people to leave.”

Meadows did official government business through personal email accounts, cellphone, and the messaging system Signal, unlocked only by the person with the account. He forwarded claims of election fraud to DOJ he privately received and introduced DDT to then-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark who wanted to replace the AG and tell state officials to appoint alternate slates of electors.

Conservative media channels, including Fox, gave no coverage of the House committee hearing about texts from them and other insurrectionists until Hannity and Ingraham attacked the media late Tuesday. 

The riot of pro-DDT mob at the Capitol to stop the Electoral Votes affirming Joe Biden’s presidential win on January 6 led to five dead and 140 law enforcement members wounded. Philip Bump wrote a chronological account of DDT during that time:  

While DDT was speaking at the rally, rioters breached the first barricade on the west front of the Capitol. DDT said people who “catch somebody in a fraud [are] allowed to go by very different rules” and “we must stop this deal and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again.”

At 1:49 pm, protesters approached the building inside the perimeter, and DDT said, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Less than 10 minutes later, Capitol Police reported injuries.

At 2:12 pm, attackers breached the Capitol building, and VP Mike Pence was evacuated. On Fox network, a man talked about his disappointment about Pence not following DDT’s plan to overturn the election but said, “But I still believe President Trump has something else left.”

At 2:24 pm, DDT, in his first statement about the insurrection, tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” National security adviser Keith Kellogg told DDT Pence was secure but added, “Nobody’s carrying a TV on their shoulder. You need to get a tweet out real quick, help control the crowd up there. This is out of control.”

Ten minutes after the attack on Pence, DDT tweeted, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Four minutes after that tweet, Ashli Babbitt attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby adjacent to the House floor and was shot. She later died. A legislator tweeted Meadows: “Hey, Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?” Another tweeted: “POTUS has to come out firmly and tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed.” And another: “TELL THEM TO GO HOME.”

At 3:13 pm, DDT tweeted, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order—respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

An hour later, DDT published a video message talking about the “stolen” election and saying “You have to go home now. We have to have peace.” He continued later in the video, “We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”

Less than 10 minutes later, Rosanne Boyland was trampled to death by a mob on the east side of the Capitol attacking police officers in an attempt to get inside.

After 5:00 pm, the National Guard arrived.

Slightly after 6:00 pm, DDT issued his last tweet: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Bump concluded: (1) only DDT, the catalyst, could stop the violence, but he didn’t for hours while he watched it on television; and (2) tweets to Meadows instead of DDT show that only Meadows could get DDT’s attention, that DDT ignored everyone else.

In an interview with Sean Hannity Monday evening, Meadows said about DDT’s behavior: “At the end of the day, they’re going to find that not only did the president act, but he acted quickly.” Meadows’ new book tried to conceal DDT’s part in the insurrection, and Republicans support Meadows’ coverup as shown by Tuesday’s Houe vote against criminally charging him with contempt. The documents, however, show his Meadows complicity and DDT siding with the attackers.    

Disillusioned with DDT, two January 6 organizers, Duston Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, are coming forward with names, text messages, discussions, and other documents for planning the January 6 rally. They plan to testify next week about congressional members, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), and DDT’s administration planning to overturn the election that led to the insurrection at the Capitol. Also involved was Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) who had suggested DDT might give Stockton and Lawrence a “blanket pardon” in another investigation for their help. The former MAGA leaders, who had been hiding out from both far-right retaliation and the left subpoenas, warned Meadows and others of possible violence on January 6 months before the event.

The committee has promised to reveal names of congressional members involved in the insurrection. More news is guaranteed.  

December 13, 2021

COVID Deaths Increase in U.S., Disinformation Spreads

Republicans are determined to continue the cult of death in their lies about vaccination while the number of cases and deaths from COVID skyrocket. Last Friday, when a massive tornado in the Southeast consumed the media with possibly over 100 deaths, 1,574 people died of COVID, raising the total in 22 months to 817,326 people. The media ignored  the daily average of over 1,000 people dying of the disease in just the United States. The U.S. passed 50,700,000 infections since the February 2020 discovery of the virus with Friday’s infections of 136,839 infections. Deaths could be far higher than those reported. People still refuse to list COVID as the cause of death, and some states show lower numbers by listing other causes for the death. Television wants visuals: destroyed buildings are far more exciting to film and people on ventilators.

For months, the media has reported that counties heavily voting for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have much higher rates of the virus with much lower rates of vaccinations. A new study from NPR examining 3,000 counties reinforces the continuing trend with people in DDT’s counties dying at 2.73 times greater than those supporting President Joe Biden. In October, counties with the highest percentages of voting for DDT had death rates at six times higher than the bluest tenth of the counties.

According to polling, partisanship is the one strongest predictor of people getting vaccinated. Mistrust in official information and exposure to disinformation about both COVID and vaccines are high among Republicans. Among Republicans, 94 percent believe one or more false statements about COVID, and 46 percent think four or more false statements about the disease are the truth. Only 14 percent of Democrats believe in four or more false statements. Some of these falsehoods are COVID cause infertility, contain microchips, and change DNA. Republicans also think the government inflates the number of COVID deaths.

Unvaccinated people are three times more likely to lean Republican rather than Democrat, according to Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank tracking attitudes toward vaccination. The situation has greatly worsened in the past several months. The rate of vaccinated Republicans has stopped at 59 percent, compared to 91 percent of the Democrats. Religion also plays a part. Atheists are 90 percent vaccinated compared to 57 percent of Christian evangelicals. Since May, the vast majority of deaths, about 150,000, occurred among the unvaccinated.

Because new COVID variants cause more asymptomatic and mild cases of the virus in vaccinated people, the hospitalization rate is becoming a way to determine policy. The reported number of infected people will be increasingly inaccurate with the availability of at-home tests separate from public health information or lack of information to avoid quarantining.

A November study by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals the danger to public health from Fox, Newsmax, and OAN to Republicans because of their disinformation. From the beginning, Fox denigrated the seriousness of COVID, ridiculed efforts to protect people such as mask wearing and social distancing, and argued against vaccinations. In exchange, Fox stars pressured people to use dangerous and ineffective treatments such as horse dewormer and bleach injections. A nickname for the crisis is the Fox News Pandemic. Viewers most likely to believe the most information are those for the Fox network (36 percent), One America News (37 percent), and Newsmax (46 percent).

COVID vaccinations don’t cause infertility, but men worried about the connection between the virus and sexual functioning should read the cautions about contracting the virus. Coronavirus infection can damage blood vessels, including those creating penile erections for a half year, even in men with mild or asymptomatic cases. Researchers think this impotence could be permanent. (A new study shows that vaping can cause the same problem in men between 20 and 65 because of nicotine and other chemicals.)

Republicans are now promoting new lies. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), declared by the New York Times as the GOP’s “foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation,” has a new myth about curing COVID—gargling with mouthwash. According to Johnson, “Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus.” Experts pointed out that most infections occur through the nose. Epidemiologist Raymond Niaura said gargling won’t hurt “if accompanied by vaccination.” In the past, Johnson has pushed hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin which got him suspended from YouTube.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), known for allowing his athletes to be sexually abused by a doctor while he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, tells people that “real America” is done with COVID. As a member of the investigating panel for the crisis, he has access to evidence, research, data, and officials regarding COVID but ignores it.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s former trade adviser and member of the White House virus strategy task force, said he won’t comply with the subpoena to appear before the House COVID investigating group because DDT told him not to testify. Navarro’s adviser Stephen Hatfill is, however, cooperating with the committee. Members want to question Navarro about his warning to the president in February 2020 about being unprepared to respond the virus and Navarro’s oversight of government investments in supplies and equipment to fight the pandemic. He has already written about the White House response in his book, negating a claim of executive privilege.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said he rejected Democratic bills because only partisan support for them, voted in favor of blocking all mandates for COVID vaccines and testing for the private sector in businesses employing over 100 people. The Senate vote of 52-48 passed the bill with one other Democrat and 50 Republicans. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) plans another bill to block vaccine mandates for medical professionals. To go into effect, bills must also have a majority of House votes and then two-thirds of membership—in the Senate, 67 votes—to overcome a presidential veto.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declares studies prove masks don’t work, but the only one he cites, coming from Denmark, had no statistical evidence to support Paul’s falsehood. The study was performed when the country’s businesses were closed, people with COVID were in quarantine, and social distancing was practiced. A number of other studies showed mask-wearing can cause a significant reduction in COVID. After a thorough analysis of Paul’s ideas, WaPo gave him four Pinocchios for lying. In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson’s hid an analysis showing that mask mandates saved lives during a Delta variant spike from the public and during his cabinet meetings.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the Dr. Oz Show, wants to join the quacks in the Senate. Although he lives in New Jersey, he plans to run in Pennsylvania, diving in after DDT’s choice, Sean Parnell, suspended his candidacy after a judge used his domestic abuse to give custody of the children to Parnell’s wife. Oz promotes raspberry ketones to dissolve fat and hydroxychloroquine as a “miracle cure” for COVID, acting as DDT’s medical adviser. 

Tucker Carlson, who likely has had his COVID vaccinations because Fox network requires either the vaccine or testing, claims to be the “truth-teller” alerting his audience that the virus feminizes men. He talked about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who supposedly told people “that getting COVID emasculated him, it changed him, it feminized him, it weakened him as a man.” Having had COVID, his far-right guest Nigel Farage didn’t want to be identified as being “feminized”; he blamed Johnson’s much younger wife for any problems.

Roger Stone, pardoned by DDT after convictions for lying, obstruction, and witness tampering, addressed anti-vaccine activists at an October conference. One idea presented was to drink one’s own urine to guarantee against COVID. Another person said the purpose of vaccines was to make people into “cyborgs” with microscopic technology designed to put “another kind of nervous system inside you.” Stone said he was open to the ideas and wanted use them to motivate conservative voters for the 2022 election.

The latest grift comes from Black Oxygen Organics (BOO) that sells dirt for $110 a small bag. People are to eat or bathe in it to get rid of toxins including heavy metals, pesticides, and parasites; it supposedly cures everything from autism to cancer to dementia—and can “detox” vaccinated people. The company’s salespersons cannot be sued because, like Tupperware and MaryKay cosmetics, it operates with people buying the product and then selling it. The source of BOO dirt is a peat bog with decayed plants sharing a border with a landfill; it has elevated levels of arsenic and lead. Four plaintiffs in Georgia are suing the Canadian company. 

Anti-vaccine people being vaccinated to save their jobs are trying to be “unvaccinated” with daily doses of niacin, butyric acid, and other supplements. Another false “detox” system is bathing in Borax mixed with sea salt, Epsom salts, and baking soda. Borax has been linked to infertility and can damage the skin and other organs.

According to research, the major motivation for spreading disinformation is hatred for political opponents. One percent of people share 75 percent of all links to fake news publishers. Republicans are more likely to share fake news than Democrats, who are more motivated by accuracy. Of the fake news sources, 30 percent publish “almost completely fabricated stories,” 5 percent have “a flawed editorial process,” and two-thirds of them refer to fake news sources. The research is here.

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